When it comes to investing, risk and reward go hand in hand. The phrase “no pain, no gain” – comes close to summing up the relationship between risk and reward. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: all investments involve some degree of risk. If you plan to buy securities – such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or ETFs – it’s important that you understand that you could lose some or all of the money you invest.
The reward for taking on risk is the potential for a greater investment return. If you have a financial goal with a long time horizon, you may make more money by carefully investing in higher risk assets, such as stocks or bonds, than if limit yourself to less risky assets. On the other hand, lower risk cash investments may be appropriate for short-term financial goals.
An aggressive investor, or one with a high risk tolerance, is willing to risk losing money to get potentially better results. A conservative investor, or one with a low risk tolerance, favors investments that maintain his or her original investment.
Many investment websites offer free online questionnaires to help you assess your risk tolerance. Some of the websites will even estimate asset allocations based on responses to the questionnaires. While the suggested asset allocations may be a useful starting point, keep in mind that the results may be biased towards financial products or services sold by companies or individuals sponsoring the websites.